Originally posted on Facebook and Reddit.
Now includes some of my responses to comments on that post.
Recently reported: 3,000,000 racquetball players in the US in 2019
(polling methodology not provided, cannot confirm independently)
USA Racquetball members: ~13,000
(2018 year end financials indicate ~7,400 full $50 yearly memberships sold, but it is likely a higher number as some quantity will have been junior memberships or college memberships or one event memberships)
Pro level players (generous estimate): ~100
So, tournament players are 0.43% of the game.
Pro players are 0.7% of the tournament players, or 1 in 30,000 racquetball players.
If the pro game were to disappear, would the 99.57% notice?
Looked at another way:
If only sanctioned tournament players are the audience for USA Racquetball / IRT / LPRT / IRF events, there is 99.57% of racquetball players that could be exposed to the existing tournament structure and video broadcasts without needing to convert any non-players into viewers.
How should the 5,000ish players and former players that discuss racquetball on Reddit and Facebook discussion groups best spread the good word about the best that are playing the game?
Are you Liking / Sharing / Commenting / Participating with the broadcasts on your own timeline?
Or are you hiding the light of racquetball in private echo chambers?
RE: How did they get the 3 million number?
I would have to assume that the National Sporting Goods Association are speculating based on number of racquets sold at big box stores and Walmart type stores, or else based on ball sales.
I can’t think that this would be a good methodology, as I bought 2 $20 racquets at Walmart when the LA Fitness opened up 3 blocks from my house (back in 2012) so that I could play with a girlfriend and a co-worker. Later that same year, I bought multiple $150 racquets from Sports Authority. Then by 2014 I was buying multiple top end racquets from Recreation ATL and directly from Gearbox every year.
Do I count as 4 players in that first year by the estimates they are using? (The girlfriend moved on, the coworker didn’t like to lose as much as he did.)
How do they count players that have been using the same Ektelon racquet for 10 years?
How do they count the players at universities that borrow from the 30ish $20 racquets that the university has for checkout?
Too many questions on my end to quote it as a definitive stat.
It does reflect a similar ratio to my personal anecdotal evidence.
I had 120 players on my club mailing list for racquetball leagues (not all played in the league, but I had discussed the league with all of them and they played at that LA Fitness).
Three or four of them had ever paid to play in a tournament outside of that club.
None were following pro racquetball, until some pros stopped into that club. (Franco sisters, Horn, Amaya)
One could tell you Rocky’s name, and they were all playing with Penn balls (as that is what the Walmart down the street sold, and what the smoothie bar would stock).
I’m certainly not saying that anyone should stop introducing new players to the game. I am saying that all of those players that played in the 80s and 90s have the opportunity to come back to the game now as gyms start reopening in the next month or so.
Time to expose everyone on our friends lists to the great fun the game is to play. 🙂
RE: Insurance issues at the big companies keep kids off courts.
I don’t completely agree. YMCA is where the game started. YMCA is where I learned at 8 years old. Community centers don’t have that problem. JCC’s don’t have that problem.
I’ve looked at 2,500+ facility websites for racquetball, LA Fitness is present, but they are far from the only choice, and in many states there are no LAF’s at all.
Finding a way to fix the LAF problem is certainly important.
Outdoor racquetball and park participation can grow tremendously, if the existing players make it so.
A touch more anecdotal evidence: Austin, Texas
There are 17 racquetball facilities within 30 miles of Austin.
Two are LA Fitness locations.
111 total views, 1 views today